June 18, 2018 – Zlatko Dalić released a statement today regarding AC Milan striker Nikola Kalinic, who has been unimpressive thus far in this international campaign and has now been sent home alongside the injured Vrsaljko and Kramarić
Saturdays game against Nigeria saw Pjaca replace Madžukić in the 86th minute instead of Kalinic because an apparent back injury saw Kalinic refuse to take to the field.
Dalinić refused to comment on the incident after the game, saying only “you will know everything tomorrow”. In today’s interview he explained:
“He warmed up for the game against Nigeria, he was supposed to go in, but he said he was not ready. “
This follows a string of incidents in which the player has claimed a back injury has prevented him from coming on in a match.
In an international friendly against Brazil earlier this year, Kalinic could not come on for the same reason, which Dalić accepted at the time.
The forward has also failed to come off of the bench in his last four consecutive international matches, perhaps showing a lack of interest and commitment.
Kalinic’s failure to attend training on Sunday morning further compounded the issue, with Russian sources claiming he has been generally unhappy with his status in the national team. This after his promising performance in the 2016 European Championships, where his goal and assist were vital in beating Spain to the top of their group.
Croatia are now left with only 22 players in their squad and will be hoping no injuries hamper their chances of a successful campaign.
The full statement by Zlatko Dalić reads as follows:
“He warmed up for the game against Nigeria, he was supposed to go in, but he said he was not ready. He wasn’t ready against Brazil. He was not ready for training yesterday.
I have calmly accepted that, and since I need my players fit and ready to play, I have made this decision.”